Fox River Deadfall
Fish the Fox
A PERSONAL JOURNAL CHRONICLING FISHING ADVENTURES AT THE FOX RIVER AND BEYOND.
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November 30, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo for about 45 minutes. 29.7 degrees with light flurries. Winds at 3 MPH gusting to 30 MPH. First outing it has really felt like winter. Glad I wasn't wading. Fished the float-n-fly in a slow deep pool. Got a bite about 20 minutes into it. Float down! Was a little smallie that taped at 13.5". That was all she wrote! River is up a bit from the rain but clarity has improved even more. USGS 11.58' / 1,220 CFS.

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 29, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo. 45 degrees, winds SE at 3 MPH. Seemed perfect for the float-n-fly. Only one taker, taped at 15.5". Occasional sprinkles during the outing. Carp and quillback surface activity towards sunset. Was hoping the bite would pickup. Didn't happen. Light drizzle turned into a nice shower as I was putting my gear in the car. USGS 11.52' / 1,110 CFS.

Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 27, 2010

Vermilion River Fishing Report: Took a drive south to visit fellow cold weather smallie chaser Jonn Graham and try the float-n-fly on the Vermilion River. This was my first trip to fish Jonn's home waters. We met up around 11 AM and fished both urban and rural settings under the bright sun. The Vermilion has been low but is up a little and stained a bit from the recent rains. It's a nice little river -- full of rock and tons of bends. Overall it was a very relaxing time. We kept warm in the sun and were mostly sheltered from any breeze, as the river has high banks that work great for blocking the wind. We caught fish at two out of three areas. I ended up catching three smallmouth, a crappie, and a creek chub on the float-n-fly. My biggest smallmouth was only 12.5" but I felt vindicated considering that it's unfamiliar territory for me. Jonn caught one smallmouth and two largemouth. I think he fared a bit better size-wise. I didn't photograph any fish but brought my zoom lens and played around a little:

Vermilion River fishing trip Vermilion River fishing trip Jonn Graham - Vermilion River fishing trip Float-n-fly - Vermilion River fishing trip Jonn Graham - Vermilion River fishing trip Vermilion River fishing trip Vermilion River fishing trip Vermilion River fishing trip Vermilion River fishing trip Jonn Graham - Vermilion River fishing trip Jonn Graham - Vermilion River fishing trip Vermilion River fishing trip Illinois State Police

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 26, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Bronze Friday. Wade fished solo late afternoon. Dressed warm. Skim ice on the edges of the river in slack areas. Only fished the float-n-fly. Narrowly avoided a skunking. Right around 4:25 PM ... float down! Solid fish and great fight. Taped at 19". The pic turned out a bit out of focus so I didn't bother cropping it. Think the wide shot gives a better feel of time of day. The end guide on the rod was icing up and I had to pick the ice out of it from time to time. Waded and walked back in the dark amidst the screeches of owls along the river. USGS 11.54' / 1,140 CFS

Red squirrel along the Fox River First ice! Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 21, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out with friend Joe D. for some float-n-fly fishing in the mid afternoon. Despite the mild air temp, fishing was more/less a grind. We waded up to some slower, deeper cuts and I fished the Jonn Graham fly under a float while Joe fished a split shot (or two) and small plastic under a float. He's still shy to commit to the actual float-n-fly rig and is working his way to it. I got bit on my second drift and lost the guesstimated foot-long smallie to a jump off. I got a few more light bites which I'm guessing were from smaller fish. We worked our way up to some larger chunk rock and I caught a small smallmouth after about twenty or so short drifts. A few light bites for Joe and we switched areas. He finally picked up his first "float-n-splitshot-n-tiny-minnow-type-plastic" smallmouth bass. 'Twas a wee bass, but still a bass!

We patiently worked the heck out of some slow, deep areas as well as shallow muddy / gravel areas. The wind was whipping from the southwest and it was putting a chop on the water, making light strikes hard to detect. The gusty wind was also putting a bow in my line and causing the float to drag across the surface of the water. It was kind of an all-or-nothing kind of a day. Mostly nothing.

Joe had to take off but graciously loaned me his white buzzbait. I took the skirt off the buzzbait and added it to my 1/4-ounce Terminator SS 'naked thumper' spinnerbait and drove to a new spot. It was around 4:15 PM and seemed much darker with the overcast skies. I worked quickly but managed one hard-fighting 14" smallmouth that nailed the spinnerbait as I reeled it downstream near chunk rock in hip-deep water. USGS 11.29' / 730 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 20, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: As you've seen over the years, I fish alone often. I like it. It gives me more control over the outing and increases my odds. When cold weather fishing, stealth is even more important. I approach my areas slowly and cautiously. I try to stay shallow and tread lightly. If I feel my boot starting to break a twig in the mud, I pick it up and plant it elsewhere. I try to remember where boulders and submerged timber are so I'm not kicking them or tripping over them. Each approach is practice and there are always subtleties to remember for next time.

Your presentation begins with YOU. Finesse fishing also means a finesse approach. And finesse movements throughout the wade. The lure is secondary. I picture bass sitting shallow. Perhaps they spook a bit deeper or become a bit more wary as I move closer. But once I pick a spot I stay there and don't move. I picture the bass moving back shallow. Sometimes bites happen just a few yards in front of me.

I got on the water around 2:40 PM. I made my way to the first area and fished an olive/chartreuse/white hair jig tied by Jonn Graham about 18" under a small foam float. No joke, I got bit on my first drift through the hole. Float down! Was a little smallie that taped at 12.5". A few drifts later, float down again! 10" smallie. Then a snag on the front side of a boulder. I had to wade in and retrieve my rig. So much for that spot.

The second area required a bit more wading and a very cautious approach. Big eddy with a long silty flat. I made it about half-way up and setup my tripod and camera near shore. Lens cap off, release mode set to wireless remote. I was ready. I planted myself about a dozen feet away from my camera so I wouldn't accidentally hit it on the back cast. I worked the eddy with the float-n-fly. Bites were very subtle. A twitch here and there, the float moving sideways a few inches as the fly crossed the back of a rough fish. I knew I was in the right area. Patience. Cast and re-cast. Finally, float down! Felt like a big fish! Until the hook pulled free. Had to convince myself it was probably just a rough fish ... maybe even foul-hooked.

About a half-hour passed and I kept getting subtle bumps in the same spot that I lost the fish earlier. Float down! I set the hook hard. Solid fish and at first, kind of hard to move off the bottom. I was thinking carp. Then I saw a flash of gold and white in the water and I thought walleye? It was fighting hard. I turned the fish toward the shallows and my prize was revealed. Smallmouth! And a big one at that! Biggest I've ever caught on the float-n-fly! I admired the beauty and was glad I had my camera ready. A few shots and two measures just to double-check. Not quite 20" but darn close at 19-7/8". I was thrilled! The big girl swam off and I have to say, that water felt damn cold!

I re-grouped, checked my line, checked my knot, and adjusted the float. I waded back into position and worked the same area. Took a call from my wife. Checked my e-mails on my iPhone. Killed another half-hour. I was getting cold. It was 4:15 PM. I thought I'd give it a few more minutes. Float down! Again, I set the hook into a decent fish. Nice fight, same deal, turned it into the shallows. Another beauty. Not quite as large, but taped at 18". It was hard to even smile for the photo. Released. I was outta there!

Damn, what a couple of hours. Off the water by 4:25 in 43 degrees. USGS 11.29' / 730 CFS.

19-7/8" Fox River smallmouth bass on the float-n-fly 18" Fox River smallmouth bass on the float-n-fly

This article was published by Bob Maciulis in Outdoor Notebook Magazine.

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 19, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished solo at the Fox River for a whopping 25 minutes in the late afternoon. Entered the river at 4:30 PM, right at sunset. Brought only the 1/4-ounce white spinnerbait tied on my line, measuring tape, and camera. The wind had subsided and a beautiful bright 'almost full' moon rose in the eastern sky amidst a few orange and pink clouds bathed in the sunset's afterglow. Canada geese honked noisily as they returned to the river for their evening roost. Their activity seemed to echo the hustle and bustle of the Friday rush hour traffic.

Despite it being late November, there was a decent hatch of tiny winged insects rising in the calm evening air. As I carefully side-stepped my way around slippery boulders and fan-cast the spinnerbait, a belted kingfisher angrily zipped up and down the river, chattering and chasing off feathered intruders from its territory.

The evening was beautiful and I was glad that I had decided to wade fish. I worked the spinnerbait downstream, ticking submerged timber and chunk rock in shin- to knee-deep water. I had five light strikes in the 25 minutes I fished, landing one 12" smallmouth that spanked the lure as a minor snag pulled free from the tip of some chunk concrete.

I waded across the river in the dark and slipped off the waders. Only one fish landed but I'll take it -- especially when Christmas decorations adorn the street lights on nearby bridges. USGS 11.26' / 687 CFS

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 16, 2010

Private Lake Fishing Report: Got out with friend Joe D. for some late-season kayaking and fishing. The weather was sunny and mild with barely a breeze. We mostly targeted pike with spinnerbaits, jerk-baits and flukes. We only managed two pike but picked up four largemouth bass, the biggest taped at 20.75". We also fished for rainbow trout a while and kept four. All in all it was a fun time on the water. This outing marks my last kayak trip of 2010. Will be washing the kayak thoroughly and hanging it up until next spring. Was a great season!

Hatchery Lake largemouth bass Hatchery Lake largemouth bass Sunset viewed from GP 2

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 14, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade-fished solo at the Fox River in the late afternoon. Travelled light, bringing only two lures. Ended up using only one of them. I fished a 1/4-ounce Terminator SS "white thumper" spinnerbait on my baitcaster and slow-rolled it around chunk rock in knee- to waist-deep water. My other option was the float-n-fly, but the spinnerbait caught me two smallmouth in short order, 12.5" and 19.5". I was so satisfied after landing the big one, I said screw it and called it a day. Kept it to a very quick trip -- around an hour and fifteen minutes. Off the water with the sun still up and 50 degrees. However, light rain started five minutes into my drive home. Wearing the fleece upper was comfortable today, but I was glad to be off the river before the drizzle and setting sun. USGS 11.33' / 790 CFS. I think a 19.5" is the biggest smallmouth I've caught "late in the season" on a spinnerbait ... as luck would have it!

Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 13, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Shore fished solo in the afternoon. Only fished the float-n-fly. Car-hopped to five different areas and found a bass or two at three of them. Slow, deep eddies with the fly twitched about 20" below the surface. Landed six smallmouth bass, largest was fourteen inches. USGS 11.38' / 868 CFS.

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 12, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out with friend Joe D. for an afternoon wade and fish. Action was slow to none. Busted three smallies, one on a 5" Yamamoto Hula Grub on a 1/8-ounce Charlie Brewer Slider Head fished along some boulders in knee-deep water. Two on a 1/4-ounce Terminator SS "white thumper" spinnerbait along edges of timber. Biggest went a mere 12". Struck out on the float-n-fly and other bottom-bouncing plastics. Tough day. Joe struck out. Spooked a few deer crossing near islands. Helps to carry a 200mm zoom when wading! USGS 11.40' / 900 CFS.

Deer crossing the Fox River Deer crossing the Fox River

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 11, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out solo to shore and wade fish at the Fox River. Stuck with the float-n-fly most of the outing. Caught nine smallmouth bass. Most were small, in the 10"-12" range. The largest taped at 16.75" and bit in knee-deep water with current over chunk rock. Blue and white fly hand-tied by friend Jonn Graham suspended 16"-20" beneath a small foam float was productive. Eight on the float-n-fly fished in slow, deep eddies. One on a 1/4-ounce Terminator SS 'white thumper' spinnerbait fished near the edge of a rock pile as the sun was setting. Another mild November day! USGS 11.40' / 884 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 10, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out for a brief wade at the Fox River with buddy Joe D. Joe had the hot hand, landing five smallmouth bass. He caught three on a #4 Mepp's Aglia in firetiger, one on a dark jig and craw, and one on a dark jig and mad tom. I mostly fished the float-n-fly in slow, deep areas. I caught two small smallmouth bass and missed a few others. The weather was beautiful and it was nice to share in the catching. USGS 11.39' / 884 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 9, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Wade fished at the Fox River solo for a few hours mid-afternoon. Tossed a 1/4-ounce Terminator SS 'white thumper' spinnerbait. Worked downstream through sun-soaked waist-deep cuts with chunk rock. Caught seven smallmouth. Six were little, from 9" to 13.5". The last was a beauty, taping at 18". Got a remote pic off a fallen log. All in all, pleased with the power wade and the mild temp. USGS 11.35' / 821 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 6, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Long story short, 9 smallmouth and 1 quillback. Shore and wade fished solo at the Fox River afternoon 'till dark. The first thing I noticed was the improved water clarity. The second was how cold it felt. Even with wool socks, several layers and 3mm neoprene waders I could feel the river's chill. I started at a thigh-deep gentle inside turn with mild current. I did well there last week. I tossed a Lucky Craft Flat Mini SR crankbait in ghost minnow and worked it downstream with varying retrieves for about 20 minutes. No takers.

Took a long walk and a warm up and made it to my second area, crankbait still tied on. Worked the edge of a rock pile and the rattle of the crankbait was spooking roughfish like crazy! Got a few bumps and finally hooked up. Turned out to be a decent-sized quillback.

Third spot was from shore and was a nice break from wading. Fished one of Jonn Graham's hand-tied flies about 20" below a small float and drifted through a slow, deep pool. Picked up three little smallmouth in the 11"-13" range. Sure is fun seeing that little float disappear.

Drove to my fourth spot arrived around 4 PM. Was setup perfectly for what I thought was going to be 'prime time.' Drifted the float-n-fly dozens of times through a slow, deep eddy. Is a go-to cold water area. Only mustered one 14" smallmouth. Stayed there way too long for only one fish. Sun was getting behind the treeline.

Decided to head back to the car. The sun was just setting. Figured I'd get home early. Had a hankering to try one more area close by. Drove over and parked, then hit the river with only a 1/4-ounce Terminator 'white thumper' spinnerbait tied on and my camera slung around my neck. Had to work fast as light was fading. Someone had just dumped mulched leaves in the river and the surface was covered with debris. Eddies were easily defined. Worked the spinnerbait downstream with short casts as I carefully waded upstream. Got into smallmouth right away, landing five in twenty minutes, 11"-16". Couldn't believe it but the dusk bite still on. Waded back in the dark. Got out of the river at 6:15 PM in 43 degrees. USGS 11.37' / 852 CFS. Honestly, felt lucky to catch anything today.

Fox River quillback Fox River smallmouth bass Fox River smallmouth bass Jonn Graham's float-n-fly

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Creek Chub Pikie
November 1, 2010

Fox River Fishing Report: Got out solo after work for a quick shore and wade fish against the setting sun. Made quick work of it and ended up catching seven smallies, all on a Lucky Craft Flat Mini SR crankbait in ghost minnow. That is one sweet little crank. Although every time I use it I'm paranoid that I'm gonna lose it!

I caught five from shore. Actually in the sluice below a dam. They didn't want it cranked, just twitched on the surface. That would get 'em to come up and smack it. All five were in the 12"-14" range. I switched areas and intended to shore fish 'till dark. I caught another smallie while slowly reeling the crank just below the surface downstream through a turn with gentle current. My last fish of the night was the biggest, taping at 16" (pictured). Same area, and hit the crankbait subsurface and took it straight to the bottom, getting snagged on a water-logged plastic bag. I set my rod and reel down on free-spool, ran to the car and slipped on my waders, then proceeded to wade out to the snag and retrieve the fish. Nice little red-eyed smallie for my efforts.

Nice night to be out. Saw a few deer. Usual stuff. Eavesdropped on a pair of great-horned owls during the walk back. Mild autumn evening. Can we re-wind and do this whole autumn thing again? Not ready for the cold or it getting dark so darn early! USGS 11.37' / 852 CFS

Fox River smallmouth bass Canadian geese above the Fox River Deer along the Fox River Deer along the Fox River Ducks on the Fox River at sunset

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© 2016 Fish The Fox. All Rights Reserved. | "Fox River Deadfall" artwork by Paul Turnbaugh. Used with permission.